When I am asked what makes me different than other designers, there are three things that come to mind.
First of all, there’s my fine art degree. Art plays a huge roll in my designs. I’m inspired by it, know the history behind it, and many times I paint paintings for my interior design work. I know color inside and out, and art is who I am. I can’t separate myself from it.
Second, I’m not into “things”. I prefer simplicity. Driving a fancy car means nothing to me. Really. If I was the wealthiest person on the earth, I would still find a used Subaru to drive around. I get more excited about my running shoes than high heels (although they are fun too). When I buy something new, I make sure I throw something out, and I have no problem doing it. In fact, throwing things away makes me wildly happy. It’s refreshing! And when I design, I don’t get caught up in the details first thing. I simply try to create a feeling. It doesn’t matter what the item is; if it’s the right shape, color, and material and adds to the whole, I put it in. I have no prejudices or preconceived “musts”. Right now I’m installing some toile wallpaper in my kids bathroom, with some really modern light fixtures. I thought I would never put toile in my own home, but it’s RIGHT. It captures the essence of my farmhouse perfectly.
Three, I have a really high “ease-of-use” standard. When I design a home, I always ask this question when selecting items:
“Could I live here/with this?”
That may seem simple, but when you look closer, that means three kids under 11, a contractor husband, and an energetic black lab could all enjoy living there. Without me yelling at them all the time.
Here are 7 things I choose to do (or not to do) to make living in a home much easier.
No silk. Ever.
Silk is just to look at. Therefore, I don’t use it. No window treatments, pillows, anything. Life’s too short to worry about water stains.
Few to No Floor/Table Lamps
I know. Blaspheme for an interior decorator.
They can be jewels in a room, and I use them when they are needed (and clients want them), but if they cause any inconvenience, they don’t make the cut.
No Rugs Under the Dining Table
This one is always hard for me. I LOVE how rugs look under dining room tables and chairs. But, again, I ask myself if I would rather sweep or vacuum. I would rather sweep. I always encourage clients to use a rug if the upkeep doesn’t bother them, and we search for indoor/outdoor rugs first.
No Marble in the Kitchen
I’ve seen post after post of designers claiming marble is fine in the kitchen. I also know that the tradesman selling/installing solid surface countertops are firmly against it. They have to take the heat when something doesn’t work out. I might have to try this for myself one day, but I use my kitchens HARD. I chop, crack, whack, spill, ooze, and wipe stuff everywhere. I clean it up promptly, but I know I don’t want to be babying my countertop while I’m trying to cook. Nobody’s got time for that.
Carpet Goes in Bedrooms Only
Wall to wall carpet is my nemesis. I need it to soften spaces, but it frustrates me. You can make sure everyone in your house takes their shoes off, but it still shows dirt/wear patterns, even with high quality carpet and pad. My tactic is to use it in bedrooms only. You’re doing yourself a disfavor by putting it in hallways and over stairs. Our farmhouse actually required carpet on the stairs (sometimes that’s the cards we are dealt) and I hate it.
In our next home (yes, it’s already planned) my whole basement is going to be heated concrete. It’s going to be hard to find the right material, but I’m going to try to make it white. We’ll finish it nicely, then throw some rugs down. Then kids, dogs, and parties can have at it. I won’t break a sweat.
So what about the living rooms, you ask? If you have an open floor plan, I like to do the entire floor in hardwood. It keeps everything congruent and peaceful. If the living room is its own room, you’ll have to decide if softness or upkeep is a bigger factor. As I always say, nothing is perfect, so decide what consequences you want to live with.
This is a no-brainer, but I won’t specify bedding that can’t be washed in my own machine at home. Dry clean only? No. I don’t even like owning clothes that are like that.
No White Grout, Especially on a Bathroom Floor
Trust me, it’s not a good idea. White grout + little boys (or grown men, eh-hum) will destroy white grout in a few months, even if it is sealed. I would rather have a bathroom/shower inset kit than a fancy tiled shower any day, simply because I don’t want to clean grout. If I have to install tile, I specify grout as dark as I possibly can.
Now, over to you. What things do you have to have in your home to make life a little easier? Where do you draw the line?